DIRTRACKR Daily Podcast - Episode Transcript

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One theory about why dirty air might be worse in sprint car racing | Daily 3-27-2024

Coming up, reducing sprint car wicker bills was supposed to reduce dirty air and improve the racing, but some think it's done the opposite. The question though, is why hasn't it worked... One driver has an interesting idea and we'll dive into that today. Let's go!

It's Wednesday, March 27th, I'm Justin Fiedler. This is DIRTRACKR Daily presented by Kubota Genuine Parts.

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Through this opening few months of the winged sprint car season, one area we've been focused on has been the wings themselves with all of this wicker bill talk. The World of Outlaws, High Limit, and Central Pennsylvania have cut down those wicker bills from two inches down to one. The hope being that the cars would be unhooked a bit, create less dirty air, and we'd see better racing. But as we've documented, many in the sport aren't convinced it's worked. Two tracks in Ohio have gone so far as to go completely the other direction, with Attica and Fremont instead choosing to add an inch to the wickers, with teams allowed to go to as much as three inches. And several drivers have talked publicly about how they don't believe the change has had the desired affect. As I've said before, I'm no scientist, and I hadn't yet heard from anyone else what exactly a plausible reason would be why the wicker reduction maybe hasn't worked. On the surface, it would seem to be a reasonable expectation that it would help, but we might be running into that sneaky law of unintended consequences. Before we get to that though, I wanted to take a look at some of the early race results and see if we could spot any noticeable differences in the numbers that might point us towards a difference with these small wickers. We've heard the feedback from the drivers on how the cars feel, but do the numbers actually show us anything significant. And on a cursory glance, the answer appears to be no. Five Volusia races this year versus five in 2023. There were actually more position changes in the features this season. Also, we had three double digit hard chargers, versus two a year ago. Comparing High Limit and the All Stars at East Bay, the All Stars in 2023 had more position changes over two nights, but High Limit had two double digit hard chargers. Winners each night came from the same starting positions. Going further with the Outlaws, again double digit hard chargers both nights at Cotton Bowl, and at Kennedale. We've also yet to have a repeat winner through eight nights. As for where Outlaw feature winners are coming from, we've had three from the pole, one from second, two from third, one from fourth, and one from seventh. So half from the front row, and half from row two or further back. If a statistics professional was looking at all of this, we wouldn't call these differences statistically significant. The racing doesn't appear to have really changed one way or the other, but the sample size is still pretty damn small. But back to a possible reason why the wicker reduction hasn't worked. Sprint car driver Logan Wagner had some interesting comments a few days ago on Twitter in response to a video shared by Vermeer crew chief Clinton Boyles. That video Boyles retweeted showed a wing in a wind tunnel and how the air reacts to it. Boyles used it as an illustration of that dreaded dirty air. Wagner, while being a many time track champion at Port Royal, is also professional pilot, so it would appear as though he does have some expertise in the area of wings. His thought was that teams are increasing the angle of the wings, he called it angle of attack, to try and make up for the lost downforce from the reduced wicker. He means effectively that teams are tilting the wings up higher to catch more air. So instead of reducing dirty air with the smaller wicker, the cars are still punching a big hole with wings that are tilted more, and still creating that dirty air for the trailing cars. He said he thinks the only way to eliminate the problem would be to introduce a maximum angle rule. And at the moment, none of the series or tracks, including the World of Outlaws, have a rule about how much wing angle you can run. On some level, it's a bit of a self policing situation, because too much wing angle eventually leads to higher drag, and the car will slow down. So there is a happy medium in there regardless of wickers. Remember too that wings are adjustable from inside the cockpit, so if any sort of maximum angle rule was put into place, that would probably affect wing sliders as well. In all of this, I still have no idea what the correct direction is, but I thought Wagner's thoughts were worth sharing, as well as some of the numbers. The one inch wicker remains in place this weekend for the Outlaw shows, and this is still an ongoing investigation by the Outlaws and High Limit into what works and what doesn't.

One schedule note for you today, The Kubota High Limit sprint car show at Kokomo Speedway has been moved up one day. It was originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 14th, but now it will be run on Monday, May 13th. This change moves it away from a direct conflict with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the first day of Indy 500 practice is on May 14th. If you aren't aware, Kokomo is 60ish miles north of the Indy area, and removing this conflict is good for both race fans in the area and Kyle Larson, who is attempting his first Indy 500 this year. That first half of May will be busy for the High Limit teams, as they will race nine times from May 1st through may 18th, with stops at 81 Speedway, Lakeside, 34 Raceway, Tri-City, Kokomo, Outlaw, Utica Rome, and Fonda. I did see some comments about how this new date does conflict with the FloRacing Night in America late model show at Brownstown, which is about 70 or 80 miles south of Indy, which does kinda suck, but with only so many days during the year, it's impossible to avoid every conflict. You can see the news release and the full schedule over at highlimitracing.com.

In dirt racing podcast land this week, Winged Nation has Carson Macedo and Cory Eliason, Passing Points has Cody Cordell talking ASCS, Quicktime has Lonnie Wheatley also talking ASCS, Dirt Track Confessions has World Racing Group's Jeff Hachmann, Hoogie's Garage has Carson McCarl and Landon Crawley, Dunewich on Dirt has Roberty Tyler, Racing Roundup has Kassidy Kreitz, The Caution Free podcast has Jeremy Weaver, and there are new episodes of The Dirt Reporters, the Dirt Nerds, Dirt Tracks and Rib Racks, and Turn 2 Terribles. One new addition this week to the podcast page is The Driver's Project podcast. It's hosted by Daryl Turford along with Dominic Scelzi and JJ Hickle. They've done three episodes so far, plus a fourth with Christopher Bell talking Rick Ferkel. You can find it, along with the episodes and all of these shows over at dirtrackr.com/watchtonight.

That's it for the show today. We did blow past 30,000 subscribers on the YouTube channel yesterday, so thank you very much for that. At last check we are at 30,120. Also, starting this week I've been posting full daily shows to the DIRTRACKR Facebook page. I've done this sporadically in the past, but I think we'll just keep it rolling for now. I've been working hard to build out the DIRTRACKR Facebook page the last several months because I know a lot of folks hang out there and I want to make it as easy as possible to get your dirt racing fix. So if you don't already follow there and want to, find it at facebook.com/dirtrackr.

Hope you guys have a great Wednesday out there, we'll see you back here tomorrow!